Did you know that your body is mostly made up of little organisms residing in your gut? Kind of terrifying, right? In fact, your cells are outnumbered 9 to 1 by the bacteria and microorganisms in and on your body. So it’s probably best not to completely ignore these guys, especially when an increasing number of researches suggests that they could be influencing nearly everything about us, including our personality, cravings, food preferences, and overall health.
What Is The Microbiome?
The microbiome is a community of bacteria (around two to three pounds of it) that lives inside your digestive tract. There are three types of bacteria.
- The good bacteria: These are our biggest allies. They help us produce vitamins, digestive enzymes, hormones, and other compounds to allow for optimal digestion and nutrient absorption. They can even support organ and brain function.
- The neutral bacteria: These are more just pleasant strangers passing by; they aren’t particularly helpful or harmful to us.
- The bad bacteria: These are our greatest adversaries, the menaces who like to feed on everything that happens to be most destructive to our health. They love sugar. They love fat. And they especially love anything processed because it’s much easier for them to access. To top that off, they even release toxic by-products into the body. And if you try to deny them the fuel they crave, they’ll send hostile signals to the brain pleading for more. So when you experience an intense craving, it’s not you—it’s them!
How To Manipulate Your Microbiome
Perhaps the coolest thing about the microbiome is that it can change drastically within 24 hours depending on what you eat and do. This is good news! It means you can rule over this population in your gut and make them work for your benefit. If you consistently feed the good bacteria what they need and starve the bad of what they crave, you’ll see a lasting effect on your health and digestion while noticing a difference on the scale pretty quickly. Here are a few ways to do that:
Get A Good Night’s Sleep
According to research, disruptions in your circadian rhythm can negatively affect the microbiome and vice versa.1 Sleep is a natural anti-inflammatory, keeps hormones that regulate your appetite balanced, and allows the body to detoxify properly. Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary, integrative neurologist and author of The Prime: Prepare and Repair your Body for Spontaneous Weight Loss, suggests turning in by 10PM, the time when your body is gearing up for its natural nightly detox.
Eat Plenty Of Fiber
Keep your good bacteria strong and happy by feeding them fiber. Start with 1 teaspoon each of ground flax seeds and psyllium husks in a glass of room-temperature water. Drink this concoction every other night to fuel digestion and carry out waste.
Clean Your Gut
A lot of us are quick to depend on fermented foods like yogurt and sauerkraut to replenish the good bacteria. But this won’t necessarily help until your digestion is in a healthy state. According to Dr. Chaudhary, cleaning up the gut with an Ayurveda-inspired protocol that includes herbs like turmeric, triphala, ashwagandha, brahmi, and guggul, as well as fresh vegetable juice and bone broth, is essential to reducing the bad bacteria and creating a better environment for the good bacteria to thrive.
Introduce Probiotics Slowly
Once your gut is clean and ready, try kefir or lassi from pastured, raw dairy products. Both contain several important probiotic strains. A microbiome with a high diversity of bacteria is optimal because a colony of bad bacteria will have a harder time taking over.
To know more about Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary and her Ayurvedic treatments, visit her web site.
|↑1||Voigt, Robin M., Christopher B. Forsyth, Stefan J. Green, Ece Mutlu, Phillip Engen, Martha H. Vitaterna, Fred W. Turek, and Ali Keshavarzian. “Circadian disorganization alters intestinal microbiota.” PloS one 9, no. 5 (2014): e97500.|